Shaking Arrogance

4 mins read

Asem Mohiuddin

When the results for the two states Haryana and Maharashtra for Assembly elections were declared on Thursday with opposition securing significant gains, the Shiv Sena lambasted the BJP party and suggested it to abdicate “arrogance”. The results in the twin states are politically significant though BJP succeeded in retaining the power.

Initially, the contest seemed one sided with BJP likely to sweep the polls. The verdict was surprising and opposition making comeback in both the states.

“The citizens of Maharashtra have given a message through EVM’s. Don not be arrogant or else you will be turned to dust. Chief Minister Devendra Fednavis was confident till the last minute that highest number of BJP candidates will win through EVMs but the BJP could not win 63 seats (in final tally 59) out of 164,” reads an editorial in Saamana on Friday.

Saamna is a mouth piece of Shiv Sena political party and the party is a close ally of BJP in Maharashtra and contested elections on seat sharing basis. With the fractured mandate in place, the party is now demanding a 50:50 power share including the rotation of chief minister.

While the editorial in Saamna cannot be taken into a broader political perspective, however, the BJP’s poor political show in the two elections merits introspection. In both the states BJP in 2014 and 2018 Parliamentary elections swept the polls. But in the Assembly elections, it failed to retain that momentum. The show went out of expectations in both the states despite prime minister; Narender Modi who magically created his wave across the country during last seven years addressed 14 political rallies and Amit Shah, Union Home minister addressing 21 political rallies in the run-up of elections.

The BJP put the abrogation of Article 370 at the centre stage in Jammu and Kashmir during the campaigning, but yielded little or no results. This Pandora of flaws could be gauged from the fact that BJP’s nationalistic ideology has little or no takers on ground in the mainland when it comes to their own woes.  The farmer’s distress and slowing down of economy, pollsters attribute as major cause for BJP’s poor performance.

“For the BJP- this round of elections have brought a first signal that electoral victories can be crafted on sur-real basis but long term politics requires more than rhetoric,” says Suhas Palshikar, Chiedf Editor of Studies in Indian Politics.

Palshikar, however, adds that BJP has not quite been defeated in the twin states and exaggerating of electoral outcomes would caution us against the strength of anti- BJP sentiment.

Even though the vote share in Maharshtra witnessed marginal decrease for BJP but in Haryana it has increased its vote share. In Maharshtra BJP won 105 Assembly seats in the elections while in previous elections its tally was 122. Similarly, in Haryana it secured just 40 Assembly seats against 47 in previous elections.

Interestingly, 8 senior ministers of BJP lost the berths to the opposition in Haryana.  In Haryana the abrogation of Article 370 was expected to offer significant gains for BJP since the state sends huge number of youths in the Army off which good numbers are deployed in Kashmir to battle the insurgency. This is what Modi in his political speeches invoked after he faced criticism by opposition for raking up the Article 370 abrogation to garner political support. Ironically, in both the states the farmer distress is rampant and is believed to have served setback for the BJP.

The experts, however, believe that BJP has crossed the line in these election campaigns and tried to secure the mandate on its move of nullifying Article 370. But people have shown fatigue with BJP’s rhetoric and demand certain measures to address their personal problems.

“The national ideology of the BJP can help it in Parliamentary elections but Assembly elections are fought to address the day to day problems,” says a senior journalist in Srinagar, wishing not to be named.  “BJP’s political scramble made it to pay.”

Maharashtra along with Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are among the top states where farmer suicide takes place. In 2018, BJP also lost to Congress in MP and Rajasthan Assembly elections after latter promised to wave-off the loans to the distressed farmer’s community. BJP here too tried to invoke the national ideology and suffered the defeat.

Neerja Chowdary, a senior Journalist covering national politics points out certain mistakes in decision making of BJP which resulted in its poor show.

“There was arrogance in BJP and people disliked it. Secondly, it suffered the backlash from the dominant communities in both the states. The Jats in Haryana and the Marathas in Maharashtra started to look away from BJP,” she says.

Chowdary says that 11 Chief Minister’s out of 18 CM’s have been so far from Maratha community and the present one Davendra Fadnavis is from Brahmin community that comprises just 3 per cent of total population. “This doesn’t go well in the state.”

“In Haryana, the Jat’s is also a politically significant community where BJP fielded a Punjabi Manohar Lal Khatar as Chief Ministerial candidate,”

“In both the states the dominant communities started to look for regaining their control.”

Meanwhile, the verdict in elections have also put aside a myth that situation in Kashmir can decide the fate of political parties in mainland- India. It is where the BJP needs to introspect and set its political understanding of the country on “right” and its ideology on “left”.

The prevailing trend where the BJP was consolidating its electorate across the country by these two states has set a hope for the opposition parties. The edifice of BJP has shown certain cracks through which the smart and aggressive opposition can penetrate and make the elections again contestant.

As the influential National daily, The Indian Express in its column writes: “The close results in Haryana and the BJP’s inability to put in a command in Maharshtra has , to borrow Leonard Cohens phrase “opened up a crack” though which some light can come in.”

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